Three letters have been sent to parents of children at a southwest Calgary school over the past week, warning of luring attempts targeting female students.
Police initially sent out a release June 23, after a man in his vehicle allegedly approached a school-aged girl walking in Braeside in his vehicle. Police said he rolled down the window and told her to get in.
When she refused and continued walking, the girl told police the man continued to talk to her, telling her not to ignore him. The man continued yelling at her as the girl ran away, police said.
That suspect is described as being in his 30s or 40s and was wearing a ball cap at the time of the incident. The vehicle is described as an older-model, dark-coloured four-door sedan with tinted windows.
Watch below: Calgary student Ana Brito says she doesn’t feel safe walking by herself after an attempted luring as she walked home from school.
On June 26, a letter from St. Cyril School said one of its Grade 7 students was approached by two men in a black vehicle. The letter said she was asked what her name was and didn’t respond, then proceeded to quickly walk home.
Global News spoke with Ana Brito, who identified herself as the student involved in the incident.
“When I was walking back, these two men just asked me how old was I? I didn’t answer,” she said. “They asked twice. I just walked away. It was scary and terrifying…really creepy.”
Brito said her father is now picking her up and bringing her to school.
“I feel safe that my dad is taking me, but when I walk back home, I don’t feel that safe anymore. They tell us to be with other friends and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
The school’s letter said in light of that incident “and the similar incident which occurred Friday, we are now asking for increased supervision with students walking to and from school.”
The school also asked students walking home to report to the office and called their parents to arrange pickups.
“We want to ensure that students are being picked up by parents or have a buddy system in place for getting to and from school safely.”
Concerned parent Priscilla Vollmer has a daughter who attends St. Cyril School and said she’s made an effort to pick her up and drop her off in light of the letters from the school.
“It’s really important to remind kids not to let their guards down,” she said. “They like to walk around with their cellphones in hand, face down and just unaware of what’s going on around them.”
On June 28, another letter was sent to St. Cyril parents after a third luring attempt in the area. The school said a 14-year-old student walking home alone at around noon on Oakfield Drive near 24 Street S.W. was approached by a black, four-door, older model sedan with “rust around the wheel wells.”
“She described the suspect as a white male with blonde hair, possibly in his 30s,” reads the letter. “He called out to the student and she ran into a nearby Mac’s store.”
The school said she found two other St. Cyril students in the store and walked back to the school. Front office staff called 911 and police were dispatched to the scene.
“We want to again emphasize the importance of students walking in groups or arranging pick-ups to and from school,” reads the letter. “We are taking this issue extremely seriously and are working with the police to ensure extra supervision in our area and thorough reporting of each incident.”
Also on June 28, a letter was sent to parents at Willow Park School, after three students walking south on Fairmount Drive reported they were approached by a beige truck.
Calgary police sent a statement Thursday saying “a number of possible child lurings” had been reported in the past week and are currently under investigation.
“We do know they’re not connected in any way,” Staff Sgt. Ralph Veckenstedt told Global News. “Over the past year, we’ve had about 20 similar incidents, and those range from somebody driving up and online luring and people approaching kids on the side of the road.”
Police released the below tips on how to keep kids safe in the summer:
- Teach your children who is a safe adult. Have a conversation with your child about who a stranger is and how even people known to them could still be dangerous. In the past we’ve talked with children a lot about “stranger danger” however unfortunately we now know that many child abductions are actually committed by people the child already knows. The important message to teach your children is to not go anywhere with anyone without first getting permission from you.
- Use the buddy system. When your children are out in the community, make sure they are always with at least one other person. Make sure you get to know your children’s friends and their parents and have contact numbers in case of an emergency.
- Show your children safe places in the community. Point out safe places in your community that your children can go to for help if they need it. These places could include police, fire and EMS stations, schools, community centres, businesses, or even trusted neighbours. It’s important for children to have multiple places they can go to in an emergency.
- Know where your child is at all times. If your child is travelling anywhere by themselves, make sure you agree on a predetermined route before they go. If it’s somewhere they go often, they should always use the same route so you know where they’ll be. Also, always have your child text or call you when they arrive at their final destination or when they are on their way home.
- Staying safe online. If your children use social media platforms, make sure you know who they are communicating with. It’s important to teach them that people they meet online may not always be who they say they are. If they want to meet an online friend in person, you should be involved in making the plans and be present when the meeting happens.
- If an attempted abduction happens teach your children to actively resist, shout out loud and draw attention to themselves. Make sure they know where to go for help or how to call police.
Anyone with information related to the incidents is asked to contact them at 403-266-1234 or 911 if a crime is in progress.
With files from Heide Pearson and Jill Croteau